Education

Bellefonte students focus on world languages during summer camp

Bellefonte Area School District students learn to make Chinese dumplings during World Languages Camp.
Bellefonte Area School District students learn to make Chinese dumplings during World Languages Camp. Photo provided

Taking a trip around the world can be an adventure not often open and available for most children, but if they are students in the Bellefonte Area School District, they may be traveling the globe via a World Languages Camp.

Students in kindergarten through sixth grade have explored a variety of languages and culture this summer. Our youngest students — kindergarten, first and second grades — have immersed into Chinese, Russian, Spanish and American sign languages, with third, fourth, fifth and sixth grade students experiencing Chinese, French, Spanish and American Sign Languages.

The children learn to speak basic conversational language while connecting to the specific culture. Activities surround the learning with food preparation and tasting, arts, crafts, poetry, dance and songs. The culminating event includes students and adults performing and presenting their learning as well as enjoying the ethnic fare prepared by students.

This summer camp, which ran from June 27-July 1, ties together the district’s efforts to prepare students for global awareness and to show our interconnectedness. Throughout the school year, elementary students take part in Spanish or Chinese classes. Teachers at the elementary level have expanded the classes by holding international awareness opportunities through a variety of activities and experiences.

Immersing elementary students into the learning of world languages is relatively new to the Bellefonte elementary students. The 2016-17 school year marks the third year phasing in language classes. The inaugural year began with kindergarten and first-grade students spending the school year learning and experiencing either the Chinese or Spanish language. Each subsequent year has added a grade level with third grade being included in the upcoming school year.

At the middle and high school levels, students have the opportunity to be exposed to and/or choose to study French, Chinese, and Spanish languages. The high school presents an international day each year to showcase what students have learned in these classes. Students at the high school have also had the opportunity to travel to places like Puerto Rico, London, Spain, France and China in recent years to see these cultures firsthand and become better global citizens.

Many of these programs have been funded through district resources, the Confucius Institute Program, the Bellefonte Education Foundation and community volunteers. The Bellefonte Area School District is both excited and proud to partner with these organizations and individuals to provide amazing global learning opportunities for our students.

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This article was written collaboratively by BASD elementary principals.

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